Looking Back on 2012

I can genuinely say that 2012 has been a year I will never forget for both the unbelievably good and devastatingly awful things it has brought me.

I rode some tests and received some scores I never dreamed possible; I moved my beloved Mister Wilson on to a new home and a new set of adventures; and I was given the opportunity to ride Danson Wolkenaction which has changed my life so much already. I lost one of my best friends and learned how beautiful the people in my life are when I needed them most. I was made the Victorian Young Ambassador for dressage which has opened so many doors for me; three generous sponsors have joined my dressage journey; and I survived my first year of IB.

Thank you to everyone who has made it possible. Horse in the Box, Reiter.M, the NRG team, my coach, my friends and family, my peers and competitors and of course my incredible parents.

Let’s go and make 2013 just as spectacular!
Happy New Year everyone (:

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Saddleworld Dressage Festival De-Brief

I’ve heard it said that the Saddleworld Dressage Festival brings the worst weather; either boiling hot or pouring rain; and this year was no exception.

On Wednesday 5th December I went down to Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre with Jenny Bray to set up camp (and stable) for what would be an intense five days of all things dressage. This first day was about washing and plaiting Michaela Bray’s Acacia Ridge Vivaldi in perparation for his Advanced Championship ride on the 6th and working out the new stabling system at Werribee Park. A new stable renovation had seen all stables provided with concrete flooring which meant that the usual bedding systems would no longer be suitable and we had to look for new ways to insulate and pad the stable floors. We were able to solve this by using rubber matting to line the stable floor under a bed of shavings which proved very effective. It was great to catch up with Allysse and Annette Smith, local mother-daughter team, for dinner and to watch the complimentary Revelwood Warmblood Stud Stallions DVD which was provided to each rider upon registration.

On the morning of the 6th everyone was up early and by 6:30am Werribee Park was buzzing with the sound of horses being fed, plaited and walked and riders going over their dressage tests and trying to control their pre-test nerves. I gave Acacia Ridge Vivaldi a once-over and checked that all of his plaits were still in place which, thank goodness, they were and then had Allysse hold him while I plaited his forelock. After a lesson in fixing forelocks with bobby pins (thanks again Allysse!), Michaela’s mount was ready to go and it was time to saddle up for the first of her tests.

Squiggle DF 2012
Acacia Ridge Vivaldi, prepared by myself using NRG Pro-Plaits and No-Nots

Michaela did an amazing job in controlling her nerves in such a high-intensity competition and held her own in an extremely strong field including a number of professionals and imported horses. This young rider demonstrated exactly what young rider dressage is all about, finishing the day smiling and proud of her little horse and conducting herself admirably at all times. What a bright hope for the future!

Micky Bray and Michaela Glass Saddleworld Dressage Festival
With Michaela Bray between her two tests

On Friday afternoon I pencilled for my first class of the championships: the Pacific League World Cup Final Grand Prix. In this class I pencilled for Helen Hughes-Keen from New Zealand and it was great to talk to her about the finer points of the harder movements as we watched some fantastic horse and rider combinations show us how its done!

After the grand prix concluded it was time to prepare for my big event for the championships: the Canine Capers. This year, as I was not riding a horse, I turned my attention to training my two dogs Honey and Sausage up for the canine events on the Friday evening. My two girls proved extremely successful and the training paid off!

IMG_3196
Sausage training for the jump-and-run event

We were off to a slow start with no placings picked up in the fancy dress ‘santa’s little helper’ themed class and so, after a quick change, we returned to the competition arena for the sprint events. First up was the Daschund Dash. Sausage was off to a flying start and well ahead off the competition but sadly, at the half way mark, she was distracted by John Thompson’s skin-tight lycra lion suit, running to the right instead of forwards and jumping out of the competition arena. She still managed to pick up third place after some confusion in the placings but we were a little disappointed after the hard hour’s training we had put into this event.

The next race was the Large Dog Sprint with Honey. Honey was more interested in playing with me than actually racing the other two dogs in the event which meant that we were trailing considerably for much of the race. However, in a crazy turn of events, the two dogs at the front of the race stopped to have a fight just a metre away from the finish line and so Honey and I were able to sprint past them and claim first place! This was a very exciting win and I was very proud of Honey for proving the old saying – slow and steady really does win the race!

Then came the Daschund Jumping Race. This was a thrilling event in which I attempted to jump Sausage with her collar and lead attached so that I could this time prevent distractions stealing our winning lead. Although this was a good idea in theory, in practice the collar slipped over her head during the race and I was left running with just a lead in my hand and a small black dog trailing behind me! However, she was still fast enough to claim second prize of which I was very proud.

Last but not least came the Large Dog Jump Race. In this, Honey ran another great race to claim third prize. Again, I feel our downfall was that she was too interested in playing with me and trying to eat the Goodos in my hands than running the actual race. But, overall, I was very proud of both my girls’ efforts and feel that our intense last-minute training session really paid off! I won more ribbons in this evening than I have ever won collectively at previous Saddleworld Dressage Festivals!

On Saturday we had a relaxed morning getting Archie and Jenny ready for the Elementary Championship. After the Elementary Championship was over I pencilled for Moya Jess in the Intermediate 1 Freestyle. This was a very exciting class to watch and Moya’s knowledge of music and horses combined to provide a great insight into the art of the ‘perfect’ freestyle. I can’t speak higher of pencilling as many classes as you can when you get the chance – no matter how much experience you have with these things they can teach you unparalleled things about what the judges see and look for and broaden your dressage knowledge.

Pencilling Inter 1 DF 2012
Pencilling for Moya Jess in the Intermediate 1 Freestyle

Sunday was the last day of the festival but certainly not the least exciting. I began the day pencilling for Deb Hamid in the Grand Prix Special. I had never pencilled the Special before and this test certainly poses some different challenges to the riders than the normal Grand Prix test, with a particularly strong focus on transitions. I learned a lot from speaking to Deb about how the extended walk is judged and also about how to score sequence changes with respect to a particular horse’s movement. I feel that this knowledge will certainly be of great benefit to me when I ride these movements myself in competition and look forward to pencilling for Ms Hamid again in the future!

The last class I pencilled for was the one all of the young riders were itching for – the Aachen Challenge Final! This prestigious competition is the pinacle of many young riders’ dressage careers and something many dream about competing in. It was magical for me to compete in it last year and so I was extremely excited to pencil for the final this year. The final of the Aachen Challenge sees the top three ranked riders from the first round swapping horses and, with ten minutes warm up, riding a special test at Prix St Georges level on each horse. This is a huge ask of any rider, especially young riders, and a very daunting task.

This year the three riders in the final were Morgan Duell, Lilah Nieuwland and Shanon McKimmie and they each did a superb job to battle it out to a very close finish with Shanon winning by just two per cent. In this class I pencilled for Susie Hoevenaars who was one of the founders of the Aachen Challenge and gave me a fabulous insight into its creation and where the idea came from. Ms Hoevenaars has a contagious passion for dressage and supporting our young riders which was amazing to experience and reassures me that the future of our sport is in good hands.

To finish off Sunday with a bang, I was lucky enough to win the Volunteers’ Raffle Cash Prize of $250 which was a great surprise and was immediately walked over to Mal Byrne Saddlery and paid as a deposit for Danson Wolkenaction’s competition bridle.

All in all, the Saddleworld Dressage Festival 2012 was a fabulous experience with much to offer for all involved. For me it was about soaking up as much expert knowledge as possible and absorbing the wonderful atmosphere that surrounded the event despite the ridiculous combination of blistering heat and pouring rain that we experienced in our five days down at ‘the Werribee Hotel’. It ws great to see the Young Dressage Rider Squad members both competing and supporting their peers and they represented themselves and dressage in Victoria very well. I can’t wait for next year!

I hope you all have a lovely break over Christmas and New Year and come back to 2013 re-energised and ready to return to the competition circuit.

Happy riding!

More photos and video footage coming soon

My New Mount for the Saddleworld Dressage Festival

I am excited to announce that those of you who will be at the Saddleworld Dressage Festival this Friday night (8th December) will witness my first outing with my new mount!

She is a 15cm high, seven year old, black and tan Dachshund known to her friends as Sausage.

Today Sausage and I commenced last-minute intense training for the Dachshund Dash to take place during the Canine Capers session. Our eyes are firmly fixed on the prize – whatever that is! We will also be entering the fancy dress and the Dachshund steeplechase. Sausage was very enthusiastic about her training and is looking forward to wowing the crowds in her debut performance.

 

I also began training today with my other mount for this event, Honey. Honey is a 70cm high, golden Rhodesian Ridgeback. She was not as enthusiastic about her training and, although she is more than three times her size, failed to jump much higher than Sausage. Honey was sadly more interested in the dog treats in my pocket than in the actual training session, although we are hoping this will improve by Friday.

I am very excited about the strong team I will be competing in the festival this year. As I am not actually riding any horses, I have been able to put my time and effort into Sausage and Honey and they have promised to bring their A-game on Friday night!

This team are currently unsponsored and any expressions of interest are welcome, simply email me at mia_glass@hotmail.com and I will be pleased to speak with you. They will roll over, lick and cuddle in return!

Photos coming soon!

Kylie Burton Clinic

On December 2nd, Danson Wolkenaction and I were given the opportunity to ride in a VIP clinic with Kylie Burton co-ordinated by Adele Plumridge from Horse in the Box Equestrian Clothing and Giftware at her lovely property in Seville. The clinic was a fantastic outing with a super friendly, positive attitude and much to be learned!

Jenny Bray was also to attend the clinic and we were given times in the afternoon which made for a lovely relaxed morning and no chaotic four am starts like we horse-riders become so used to. We got the horses out of their paddocks late morning, cleaned them up, loaded the last pieces of tack, food and other bits and bobs onto the floats and headed off towards Seville at lunch time. The sun was out and the weather forecast was promising so everyone was hopeful that the rain of the previous day was passed and would stay away for the afternoon.

Upon arriving at Adele’s property we were immediately impressed by the stunning views of the Yarra Valley that surround it. We were generously allowed to put our horses into the stables and so Archie and Action had some time to relax before their lessons. The stables were fantastic with windows in the back wall so that the boys could look over the paddocks outside and the boys loved this! While Archie gazed wistfully out the window, Action gazed intently at Archie. What a strange love triangle! While the boys relaxed, we watched the end of Adele’s daughter Bella’s lesson on her lovely four year old pony from the seating area by the arena. This was a great opportunity to have a chat whilst watching some horsey action and we also caught up with local Seville mother-daughter dressage team Allysse and Annette Smith who had also participated in the clinic earlier that day.

Luckily, this time there was no forgotten gear and no last minute trips back to Kinglake in order to pick it up (if you haven’t already, you can read all about the case of the missing saddle here https://michaelaglass.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/charlotte-pederson-clinic/) and so with Allysse’s help I tacked Action up, put on my top boots, gave him some last minute Rewards (his new favourite food!) and headed out to the arena for my lesson. This was the first time I had ridden Action at this new location and with so little time to settle in and observe his surroundings before being ridden so it was another important step on his journey to becoming a seasoned competitor.

Although there were apparently a few boogy men in the trees down one long side of the arena the first time he saw them, Action soon settled into this new environment and was working like a superstar. Kylie was very encouraging and able to teach me new ways to maintain his focus when there were a lot of distractions, work on my position and also help me to sharpen up my transitions within the paces. All of these things are key to getting the best work out of your horse in a competition environment and so I was very grateful for the opportunity to address them in this new place with such a helpful and approachable coach.

Photo by Gerardine NaughtonMyself dressed by Horse in the Box
Action Dressed by Reiter.M

Photo by Gerardine Naughton
Myself dressed by Horse in the Box
Action Dressed by Reiter.M

After my lesson it was time for a few happy snaps with Adele and some last minute planning of when we will all be seeing each other at the Saddleworld Dressage Festival at Werribee Park later this week (6th-9th December). I learned that Kylie will be participating in a ‘dressage riders try vaulting’ demonstration on Saturday 8th – be sure not to miss it! From what I hear it is a very challenging task and has provided Kylie with some new skills and the bruises to go with them. Also, don’t miss out on visiting the Horse in the Box trade stand in the trade village where you can meet the team including Adele and Erika and view all their new and exciting stock.

Photo by Gerardine NaughtonMyself dressed by Horse in the Box
Action Dressed by Reiter.M

Photo by Gerardine Naughton
Myself dressed by Horse in the Box
Action Dressed by Reiter.M

FInally, we bundled the ‘Ranga Club’, as we have affectionately coined our collection of chestnuts, onto the floats, waved goodbye and headed back up the highway and home again. On the way home we debriefed a day well spent, watched the video footage and planned where we go from here.

I would again like to thank Adele for hosting this great opportunity and Kylie Burton for sharing your expertise.

Happy riding!